Waterborne Trim Paints and One Trick Ponies

Written by on December 23, 2011 in Interior Paints, Interior Products, Uncategorized with 156 Comments

Brushed. New construction.

Paint in the Present!!

Until very recently, waterborne trim paints would really not be part of the discussion for painters.

Many of us in paint contracting are 30 somethings (read age 40-60), with pretty stout beliefs in how things should be done.

We fall into opinion “camps” when it comes to certain questions about product and process, which are critical components in the formation of whatever you believe to be the “craft” of painting.

Topics that divide opinions:

  •     Sprayed trim vs. Brushed trim
  •     Oil based enamel vs. Waterborne
  •      Graco vs. Titan
  •      Airless vs. Air Assisted
  •      Benjamin Moore vs. Sherwin Williams
  •      Purdy vs. Wooster
  •      Primer vs. no primer


What School Are You?

I am of the school which believes that a professional painter, and therefore a professional paint contracting company, should be current and skilled in all relevant ways of most efficiently achieving the desired result. Especially as it relates to product and process. Not just because efficiency yields profit (which we all need to survive), but as much because efficiency turns the paint process into a lower impact intrusion on our customers (which we all need to survive).

Many of our “ways” are becoming outdated in a paint industry that has changed more in the past decade than in the previous several. Think about the paint formulations and tool technologies that have become mainstream in recent years, and this becomes obvious.

Waterborne trim paints are an example of paint technology that has come further in the past ten years than the previous generations of latex interior paints had progressed in, well, generations.

Painters who were raised on oil based enamels for trim have probably found it the most difficult to convert themselves to waterborne. As long as oil is around, they can probably still get their fix. I do still believe that there is nothing quite as nice as a true high quality oil finish.

[Related: Scott Burt on Waterborne Paints in JLC Magazine, Dec. ’12]

But I also used them for enough years on projects to be well aware of every single drawback to using them. Not one of the drawbacks points back to quality, but they all affect process. Dry times in particular are the biggest drawback, in my opinion. Not from the standpoint of recoat time. We don’t always need or want to do two coats in a day. But the same slow dry time that lays oil down so beautifully also makes it a dust magnet during that dry time. Throw in the smell, the paint thinner handling required, different brush cleaning program, and product cost, and it is not difficult to find a way to be more efficient with waterborne, as long as you can get them to perform to the level of finish you require.

That is where most painters go wrong when using waterborne. It doesn’t work the same way off the brush, the open time is shorter, tacking up is faster, curing can be slower, its flash potential is different, and the way you prep for it is different (actually easier). The finishes can be virtually indistinguishable from oil to the untrained, nonprofessional eye. It just requires a bit of reprogramming of our own skill sets to master a new technology.

I don’t believe that there is, or needs to be, one set list of products that work…referring to prep, prime and paint of wood trim. There are many different combinations that work well together. The key is to find the ones that work the best for your needs.

The economy in recent years has not been good to “one trick ponies”. Too many painters try new products or tools once, without changing their approach, and they condemn the product or tool as unworkable. Or, no better than it ever was. My crew has been brushing and spraying waterbornes extensively since 2007. Sprayed or brushed, our customers are blown away each time by the finish.

A painter these days needs to know many product and application methods in order to succeed.

I am curious to hear how others are exploring waterbornes on trim and rebuilding outdated processes for efficiency.

Please leave a comment. And questions are welcome too.

Scott Burt

Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine (www.paintmag.com) since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. This site is an extension of Scott's publication work, and he encourages readers to leave comments and questions about articles published here. Hope to hear from you!



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  1. While I totally agree with you that a painter should know different methods, I haven’t learned waterborne painting yet.

  2. Guy Graves says:

    Hi Scott, excellent and informative article! I am a relatively novice painter (plenty of experience with basic water based emulsion (latex) on walls and brushed oil-based gloss on trim, so my basic technique is solid) looking to try to create the fashionable super-smooth high gloss/lacquer look on interior walls in a small bedroom, in a very dark colour (BM’s Essex Green looks good). The BM Advance (high gloss) is now available where I am (England), and appears to be a good choice for my occupied house due to low odour, and reports of excellent levelling to help with the finish. I am not overly concerned with dry and cure times as the room can remain uninhabited for a week or more if necessary. The walls are currently a white flat matt latex, four years since painted (new build), walls are in very good extremely smooth and flat condition. Priority is smoothness and perfection of finish on flat walls, and ease of application, speed is not so important. My questions are:

    Is this something that sounds like a terrible idea?
    Is the BM Advance High Gloss a good choice of paint?
    Would a primer be required?
    Would you recommend a spray application, and if so what type of sprayer?
    Is tape sufficient where the walls meet the lower trim?
    Any other advice and application tips would be very much appreciated.


    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Guy…to your questions…I don’t think its a terrible idea but I don’t think I would go for it personally. Advance High Gloss is probably as good as anything that is available in your market. Shouldn’t need a primer as long as you scuff the existing (assuming waterbased) finish well, although primer can sometimes save you a bit of money per coat versus advance. If you have never sprayed, I wouldn’t recommend this as a maiden voyage. Tape is sufficient. Only other tips I would offer are that High Gloss is pretty tricky to work with, especially in deep base colors. Not sure what you have available for roller naps over there, but experiment with that before going full on into the project. High gloss will show every bit of lint that the roller sheds and every time you change direction and orientation.

  3. Zak Cook says:

    Absolutely terrific website Scott. Thanks to you and your pro contributors for their generosity. I was hoping for a recommendation on an upcoming painting project…
    I am remodeling my kitchen and am currently in the process of building my own kitchen cabinets. The cabinet interiors are all high grade, pre-finished maple ply, but the plan is to paint all the exterior surfaces, which will be a combination of MDF doors, panels and drawer faces, and poplar or maple face frames. So a few questions:
    1) I was thinking to brush everything, to maximize the “touch-up ability” of the surfaces (my wife is a bit of a hurricane in the kitchen). The doors and drawer faces are flat, no raised panels or moulding details. Is this a good choice or would it just make more sense to spray?
    2) Regardless of application method, what would be your recommended paint system for this new cabinet application (paint and primer). I’m in Los Angeles, CA so I don’t think oil-based paints are an option.
    3) Finally, am I crazy trying to do the cabinet painting myself? I love doing my own work and am very handy/meticulous, but I have zero experience painting new cabinets and I don’t want to be foolish. Thanks so much ahead of time.

    • Drake says:

      Hey Zak, Benjamin Moore store here (just so you’re aware!), hopefully I can answer some of your questions.

      1) Spraying generally gets you a much nicer finish. That being said, a high quality hybrid can make it so even a relatively unskilled painter can have good looking brushed work. Many of the better hybrids level themselves out very nicely without too much work.
      2) Of course I’m biased here being a BM store, but keep in mind we’re independent dealers so it’s not like I profit from you using BM products. I’d highly recommend using something like the BM Advance (a fairly unique hybrid, and comes in at less than 50 VOC’s/L if I recall correctly so it should be available to you). It lays out very nicely as I mentioned above. The biggest things to remember are not to overwork it and make sure to wait long enough on the dry time. The one caveat to working with it is that you *must* give it its dry time or it will be (and stay) soft.
      3) Crazy? No. Will it come out perfect? Also, probably no. It’s a learning experience working with any of these type products, but the finish they give is much better than a regular latex paint. Ask questions, **DO SOME TRIAL RUNS**, and learn as you go and you’ll be okay.

      Cheers and good luck.

      • Drake says:

        Oops, forgot primer. Really, any good quality primer will do. Ask your local independent retailer for a good quality primer. They’ll give you a good suggestion.

  4. Mike Pope says:

    As always, great post Scott. I have worked in the painting industry for 33 years. I try to change with the times, and the industry has made quite a few changes since I got into the trade in 1983. Waterbourne enamels have come a long ways since then. When I first started painting, I was doing residential new construction in Dallas Texas. They called it “Latex Enamel” back then, and it was not easy to work with, and pretty much adhered to nothing. Almost everyone was still using the oil based enamels on interior trim. In the 90’s, they started to improve the waterbourne products as VOC laws started going into effect and oil was being phased out. I’d say my first experience with a decent waterbourne enamel was with Sherwin-Williams “Pro Classic” around 2001 or so. (not 100% sure on the date) There was defineatly a learning curve after 15 or 20 years of spraying oil based enamels. With oil, I could spray a tack coat, let it flash, and come back and pile it on. Not the case with WB. It will run like a bandit. In the long run though, waterbourne enamels are here to stay. Might as well jump on board.

    • Drake says:

      Heya Mike,

      Great comments! Interesting fact about the word “enamel” in regards to paints. There are no requirements- at all- for putting the word on your paint can. What does this mean? Well, it means that word is largely responsible for people’s mistrust in waterborne coatings for trim paints. Many major manufacturers slapped the word “enamel” on all of their crappy products for trim so that unsuspecting people would believe they would work. Unfortunately, there’s still many unscrupulous manufacturers doing it to this day. The only way to find a waterborne coating that truly dries to a hard, tough finish is trial and error. And, in my experience, many of the cans that say “enamel” on them are the last ones I’d ever recommend to anyone. Take care!

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience, Mike. Always nice to hear from you.

  5. CW says:

    I used BM Advance Satin on some old cabinets that I didn’t have the time to sand down to wood. I did sand out previous drips etc and prepared the surface the best I could on top of old paint, primed and scuff sanded. The Advance went on well and I managed to address drips, etc. along the way. The problem is that even in Satin sheen it seems way too glossy given the layers of paint strokes underneath. A lot of imperfections show and I’d like to switch off to something less shiny and hide more of the imperfections. Can I paint an eggshell latex over it then seal? Or is there another way to reduce the sheen so that the imperfections are less noticeable? I know the real thing would have been to go down to the wood or replace the whole cabinets, but just looking for a simple DIY solution that softens the look a little.

    • Drake says:

      Heya CW,

      It’s worth noting that with Advance (and many other coatings) the sheen isn’t necessarily done going down just because it’s dry. You usually see more settling over the next 2-3 weeks to a “final” sheen, though it will still even continue to slowly reduce after that through the life of the cabinets. I’m sure I’m too late to help you now, but I hope this helps you in the future. Cheers!

  6. NorEastern says:

    I would like to state that I am not a professional painter, but I buy, personally refurbish and resell high end houses for a living. When painting wood I would never ever use anything but BM Impervo. I personally have never seen anything close to the leveling, hardness, and durability of Impervo. I will never again even think of putting a latex paint on wood. The results are always disastrous. But then I have a keen eye for quality as do my clients. The only exception that comes to mind is cabinets painted in a very light color that are subjected to a high level of UV light. But I just install a permanent UV film filter over all of the offending windows.

  7. DONNA adams says:

    I just sanded my badly stained oak hardwood floors down to bare wood. I would like to paint them high gloss white. I used B M Advance high gloss on all my trim and loved it. Can I use it on the floors?

    • Drake says:

      Hi there Donna,

      BM Advance is not recommended for floors unfortunately. If you’d like to go for high gloss and stay within the Benjamin Moore product family, try their Floor & Patio Latex Enamel High Gloss. That will give you the lovely finish you want and the durability to hold up to floor traffic. It comes in a ready-mixed white and any color in the BM family.

  8. judy says:

    My painter painted my wood cabinets with Benjamin Moore Advanced Waterborne interior alkyd, satin, intense white in color. He sanded them, primed them, and put a few coats of the paint on them, no poly. He finished the last coat yesterday, and later in the day, he put the kitchen cabinet doors back on the frame. As of today, there is paint chipping in several areas, right down to the original wood. Is there a cure time for this type of paint? Should we put a couple coats of poly on them, and what kind? What does he need to do to repair the cupboards? I’m very disappointed in the way they came out. They look nice from a distance, but obviously, they will not hold up well. I haven’t paid him yet, and he seems agreeable to fixing them. He is a professional painter, but he hasn’t used this particular paint before. An employee at the paint store recommended for the stronger surface as I told him I was very concerned with chipping, etc, before he started this job. Any suggestions on what to do now? Thank you.

    • Susan says:

      Judy, I’ve used this paint for several years and have had no clients to call me with problems as you describe. Sounds like he reattached the doors too soon and likely had some “wood on wood” contact to chip the paint. I usually wait at least a couple of days before re-hanging the doors. It’s my understanding that this paint actually continues to cure for 3-4 weeks before it reaches maximum hardness. I have a feeling that if you touch up the nicks, you will be pleased with the durability when it fully cures.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Judy, I agree with what Susan said. I think it may be a curing issue. I would not put poly on them. Hopefully, they will continue to cure and harden for you. Just be careful that they aren’t still “sticky” right now. If so, don’t close the doors and drawers tight for a bit.

    • Drake says:

      Heya Judy,

      In addition to what’s already been said, Advance takes about 16 hours (sometimes more, depending on the conditions) to dry fully. Hopefully your painter read the can and waited the proper time in between coats, as this can significantly impact the long term durability of the finish. You shouldn’t need to do any kind of poly coat over it. As has been pointed out, even after the initial dry time there’s also a cure time. They definitely shouldn’t go back on within 24 hours of the last coat being added. Seems like he probably put them back on too early. Touch up the spots and then give them a full day to dry and cure a bit. Then put them back on and you should love it.

  9. Miyuki says:

    Hello. I just painted my lower kitchen cabinets with SW waterborne acrylic-alkyd enamel. Although the ultra smooth finish is superior to the Behr high gloss acrylic that I have on my upper cabinets, I don’t like the color I chose, and also prefer the sheen of the Behr high gloss. Can I apply the 100% acrylic paint directly on top of the waterborne acrylic-alkyd without having to prime again? Thanks!

    • Drake says:

      As you probably know, the SW you’re putting on only comes in a satin sheen which is why your finish isn’t as nice and glossy.

      However, if you went to a Benjamin Moore Advance instead of SW, you can get the Advance High-Gloss, which is also a waterborne acrylic-alkyd with great durability and a fantastic smooth finish. This gets you the sheen you want and a much better quality paint. You can paint it right on over the SW (and the latex paint on the upper cabinets as well if you’d like).

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Miyuki, thanks for your question. I can’t speak from experience about applying Behr HG over SW Pro Classic hybrid. I am assuming that you used the satin sheen. You may find that the semi-gloss in the same product is more appealing. It is generally less risky to stay within the same product technology type, as long as the finish is what you desire, which you can really only determine for yourself through testing.

  10. David Horner says:

    Hi Susan, when I am going over an existing oil finish I always use advance primer just to ensure adhesion

  11. Susan says:

    My Ben Moore supplier says that, when I use Advance, no priming is necessary– that the beauty of it is that you can paint over anything without priming– even oil based paint. But on this thread, there’s a lot of talk of priming before using Advance. Is priming absolutely necessary when using Advance over oil based paint on trim?

  12. Cat Barba-Abay says:

    Scott, I am a DIYer, and am trying to touch up the worn stain on my father’s trim ( windows, baseboard, doors, etc.) His house was built in 1976. Do you have a recommendation on a product to use for this task, and the best method to do this? I also am wondering what kind of top coat to use. I was told that if you don’t use the same kind , there might be a reaction and it will bubble, or change the existing top coat. I found that when I was wiping down the windows with a kitchen towel, after steaming off wallpaper, the stain was wiping off ! Your advice is greatly appreciated!

    • David Horner says:

      I am afraid you will need to get the existing stain and finish removed before you can restain you will not get any penetration and of course not good adhesion and match.

  13. Les says:

    Hi Scott, I’m wondering the best way to paint a wooden stair rail. I don’t know if it’s finished in varnish or polyurethane. I will probably clean w/TSP. Can I use a deglosser/liquid sandpaper rather than hand sanding? I was thinking SW multi-purpose Acrylic primer under BM Advance. Many thanks for your thoughts.

    • Drake says:

      Heya Les,

      Just as an aside (and bearing in mind, I’m a Benjamin Moore dealer), is there any reason you’re not going with the BM Advance Primer, or the Fresh Start from BM? In general I’d always recommend pairing up primers with the same company’s paint when you can. You’ll get better adhesion that way imho.

      • Les says:

        Unfortunately, the only nearby BM retailer does not carry the Advance primer. I’m told they never have – weird, huh? I’ve used BM Advance over SW acrylic-alkyd primer on cabinets w/great results, but I’m really concerned about the best primer adhesion to the stair rail since I hope to not have to completely remove the varnish or poly. I was leaning towards a shellac primer, but I’m wondering if SW acrylic-alkyd would suffice or perhaps another type is best.

      • Scott Burt says:

        Hi Drake, we pass on Advance because it is slow. Fresh Start is a good primer, but doesn’t dry to a sandable state as quickly some of the others, and even when it is ready to be sanded, it doesn’t sand to powder as well. It is no longer essential to use an all one mfr system, in fact it is rare.

        • Drake says:

          Good points Scott. I dropped the Advance Primer from my in-store line-up a while back, but I’ve just had one of my pro painters asking for me to get it back. He really likes the quality adhesion and how good of a look it gives (according to him). Not sure if I’ll bring it back or not.

          Might be worth keeping an eye out- Benjamin Moore has just released a new primer that might be worth trying out. It’s less expensive than the Fresh Start, but I think it may have some qualities Fresh Start lacks (it’s much more versatile, for instance).

          Best of luck to you both!

  14. Dan says:

    Hi Scott, thanks for the article. Homeowner here, but was a hack professional painter in the summers of my youth. In more recent years I’ve been really pleased with the results I’ve gotten using Ben Moore Super Satin on interior trim. Yes, its for metal… but the sheen and leveling was just unbeatable, at least to my experience and research. Anyway, as Super Satin is being phased out (here in california anyway) I’m going to need to switch to something else. Satin Impervo oil based is vaguely in the ballpark but I’d love to know if there’s any other paint that can match Super Satin’s wonderful lustre. Would be over the moon if such a paint would not smell for weeks like Super Satin!

  15. Drake says:

    Heya Scott,

    I work at a paint store and thought I might ask you for a bit of advice. I have a customer who’s always used Impervo Satin for the trim on a specific building. Now that Impervo Satin is going away, I need to move them to another product. I was thinking about the Advance Satin, but there’s a few considerations. Will they still be able to touch up the trim, or will they have to repaint the entire thing? Will the Advance (since it’s still somewhat an oil paint) go over the Impervo, or do they need to sand, or do they need to sand and paint? I’m also worried about the sheen, as I just looked at the TDS and the Impervo Satin is actually (confusingly) a low luster paint. I’m not terribly worried about the color- I’m confident I can get the right- but the rest is a lot of unknowns for me.

    • Drake says:

      Great information in the article and the comments, by the way.

    • Scott Burt says:


      I would also consider having them try 314, as well as Advance. In either case, it is cheap insurance to do a thorough scuff sand when going over the oil impervo, and even a coat of 046. I wouldn’t worry too much about sheen. I agree that it won’t be the same, but the sheen on the old impervo faded pretty quickly. Explain to the customer that a wb will retain both sheen and color better.

      • Drake says:

        Thanks for the input Scott! Unfortunately it’s a bit darker color, so I don’t think the N314 will do it (only comes in 1x or 2x base).

  16. Tony P says:

    Hey Scott, Great site. I have been using SW ProClassic WB Alkyd on trim. Problem is it doesn’t wipe up well. Even the slightest finger print seems to permanantly stain the film. My SW rep said all their paints have 30 day cure times. Do you know of any wb trim paints with quicker cure times that are truly wipeable? Same for wall paint. I have noticed that SW Duration Home doesn’t wipe as well as advertised. Your site is a real gold mine of painter’s info!

  17. Dave R says:

    Hi Scott, great wesite! Trying to find anyone with experience using the Mythic brand of paints on kitchen cabinets. Would you think it would have the same level of durability of the other paints you have mentioned for this application?

  18. Mark says:

    Question- I am painting previously painted interior woodwork- not sure if oil or latex previously. Planning on using BM Impervo Waterborne. Does it matter what I scuff previous trim with? Do I need a primer?

    THanks- Great Site you have!

    • Scott Burt says:

      I would recommend a good scuff at 100 grit and then an adhesion primer, such as Sherwin Williams Multi Purpose Acrylic prior to applying the waterborne paint.

      • Mark says:

        Scott- I am assuming that the adhesion primer is simply for that purpose…..adhesion. Or does it serve another purpose. Thanks.

        • Scott Burt says:

          Sherwin Williams Multi Purpose Acrylic primer is indeed an all purpose interior and exterior rated primer with a particular strength in adhesion, but exceptional across the board as well.

  19. Randy Roozeboom says:

    Hi Scott, I’m looking for some recommendations for a water-based paint for large, 3-piece crown. The color needs to be off-white, for sure. We like “Restful White” by SW but we can easily go with another manufacturer if necessary. It is primed with SW Premium Wall and Trim primer. I want to stay with latex because I’m sure it will need touch-up caulk & paint in the coming years due to movement. Oil-based whites would probably yellow over time so I wouldn’t be able to get a color match. Most of the crown is in a 2-story rooms so I am not planning on re-painting, just touch-ups as needed. Can you make a recommendation? Thanks.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Randy, Ben Moore Waterborne Impervo or SW Cashmere Medium Lustre would be worth checking out. Sample first to make sure the sheen is what you are looking for.

  20. Melissa says:

    I am a first time home owner, and hoping to have kids in the next few years. I know very little about painting except what I have learned the hard way. At the store I was told by the sales person I could put latex over my oil trim, so now I have peeling paint through the whole house. After stripping and sanding one room, we are thinking of just replacing and painting all of the trim in the house. What do you recommend. What trim paint would be best for an active household with children? And What paints are reasonable to work with a brush for an inexperienced painter? I really hope to never have to paint the trim again after this. It has been such a nightmare. We do not have any stores near us that sell Benjamin Moore paints.

  21. Hi there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple
    iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Carry on the outstanding work!

  22. Jeff says:

    Can I use a waterborne paint over an oil based stain?

    • Scott Burt says:

      Jeff, you can. I would recommend a good scuff and a bonding primer such as Sherwin Williams Multi Purpose Acrylic. Keep us posted. Post up a pic when you get into it, if you’d like.

  23. Beverly Hendricks says:

    Hi Scott, Informative thread! I am looking for an oil-looking, high gloss for exterior trim on a historical house, and as a home-owner looking to help our painters, to the extent that I can, with information on the use of a new product. I called the Benjamin Moore company and spoke to one of their tech people who recommended Advance N-794 water borne, oil high gloss to suit my needs. What I’m wondering is, if you have any tips so as not get so many bubbles in the surface. Any practical tips for the application of this product would be very helpful. With many thanks. -Beverly

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Beverly, thanks for stopping by.
      Is it going on exterior trim?
      What color are you doing?
      What type of climate are you in?

      • Robert Neese says:

        Once again,another great read.I was taught oil and nothing but oil on trim.Since I went out own my own Iam always up for new changes.I have noticed homeowners do not want the long dry time and smell in the house that oil base products has to offer.When Sherwin Williams came out with Pro Classic latex I was a little Iffy about the product.After brushing and spraying non stop trim I grew to like it.It is a very good product and I will keep using it.Now Solo is a different subject..Awesome work Scott.Keep up the good work.

        • Scott Burt says:

          Thanks Robert. It’s hard to justify the time that oil takes on interior anymore, when there are such good alternatives that are more efficient. I haven’t tried Solo yet, what’s the deal?

  24. Jaci says:

    I’m painting a waterborne alkyd on my barns, the white trim paint that I have is flat latex barn trim paint, same brand. Can the latex be painted over top of the WB alkyd? Or do I need to paint the trim first and then spray the WB alkyd over the latex? THANKS!

  25. David says:

    Painting since 1973 started with oils and loved them especially satin impervo. since the change to waterborne finishes have used many all have been ok.Just finished a new home sprayed all the trim.2 coats lacquer primer 2. Coats of benmoore advance of all the waterborne finishes that I have tried over the years none can touch this product .If you do not try this product on your next highend project you are doing your customers a dis service .

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks for the input, David. We agree, Advance is a great finish. Just wish it dried faster!

      • rick larson says:

        Hi Scott, We need to decide between Advance and Impervo to paint all our trim and cabinets. We have a professional painter sanding everything that was in an oil finish so that we can change to waterborne. which do you suggest and then what primer to put under? thanks for your time, Rick

        • rick larson says:

          Hi Scott, We need to decide between Advance and Impervo to paint all our trim and cabinets. We have a professional painter sanding everything that was in an oil finish so that we can change to waterborne. Which of the two products do you suggest and then what primer to put under? Also, his crew will be spraying the top coat, should the primer be sprayed, as well?
          Thanks for your time, Rick

          • Scott Burt says:

            Rick, I would use Sherwin Williams Multi-purpose as the primer, and yes it should be sprayed, but only after a healthy scuff of the existing. I would recommend waterborne impervo for the finish.

  26. M.Lipka says:

    If possible, i love spraying trim with an air-assisted/H.V.L.P, but alot of times this isnt the case. I have found Great results with the Benjamin Moore Advance Paints for interior trim. I understand that its not completely waterborne and it is oil modified. The key for me making it look great i think was using Aqua-Lock primer from inslx, sold at aubuchon here in vermont.It works great on raw poplar wood. The Aqua lock sands easy, unlike the advance. I went through a whole box of reg festool pads, before i called my local rep asking him if they had something that the advance wouldn’t “gel up” on, and he recommended the granat pads, and i havent looked back since purchasing them.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks ML. I love Advance as a finish. The cure time is slow, which makes it tough on abrasives, which makes Granat the best choice. In case you haven’t noticed, I am a huge fan of oil modifieds in many genre. Thanks for stopping by!

  27. Paul C says:

    Hi Scott and propainters,

    Excellent website, glad I landed on it. I’m a DIY home owner (in Toronto, Canada) with a fair amount of painting experience, and have a fussy eye so I strive for a prolevel finish. May take me ten times as long but I usually get it.

    However, the transition to waterborne interior trim paint has been tricky. This is my second round with BM Advance (this time semi-gloss)and I’m having serious issues with micro bubbles (also known as fish eyes or craters). I prep very well, use clean, high quality brushes (Proform) and rollers (BM). I have primed my doors and trim with BM Advance Primer. The leveling and finish is great but some of the bubbles do not fully level out and are present when it dries.

    My first round with BM Advance (Satin) the fish eyes really was not an issue. I am using the same tools and technique this round and the result is frustrating. My local store has replaced the paint with a different batch number, but still same problem. I have called BM and followed their advice and still no improvement. I’ve tested very light coats, heavier coats, rolling, rolling and then back brushing, tipping off, but still can’t get a whole area bubble fish eye free as it normally goes with oil paint.

    Must be something I’m doing as I cannot see pro’s putting up with this and trying to make a living. I want to master the product as it the future and I see a lot more painting in my years ahead.

    Is it temperature, humidity levels, ? Really should not be this hard.

    Thanks in advance for the help!

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks Paul. Sounds flukey. What oil primer are you going over? Have you tried a sample over a good quality acrylic primer, using the techniques you describe? I’d bet this would solve it.

      • Paul C says:

        Hi Scott,

        Using BM Advance Primer. Someone mentioned it might be the type of sand paper, guy said only use zinc garnet rather than the silicon carbide types. Any thoughts on that? I am using the same types of papers I always have, Norton brand. Doesn’t say the type but pretty sure it is not traditional zinc garnet.


        • Scott Burt says:

          Paul, we have shifted almost exclusively to the Granat line from Festool for all of our paint and clear grade sanding. It is a hybrid of aluminum oxide and silicone grit, and has a non wax stearated coating for non loading, which reduces swirling or pig tailing. Its not compatible with non-Festool sanders, though. So, I haven’t put any Norton or other brands on Advance primer since it came out. Generally though, yes, quality of abrasive has much to do with prep results. Part of the reason we switched to granat was because we were tired of the poor mileage and results with the garden variety abrasive lines.

        • millicent macchione says:

          I have recently painted my kitchen cabinets with BM Advance. I, too, have experienced the bubbles that don’t dissipate and are evident when the paint is dried. I finally gave up and just ignore them. They are not noticeable from a distance and they didn’t occur on each cabinet, although I never could predict what caused them, trying various methods of application. I, too, prepped meticulously as well primed – BM primer for half the job and then a shellac primer for the other half. All in all, I’m happy enough but didn’t find Advance easy to work with, as I had read from reviews it would be. I did not find it self leveling as many claimed and I thought coverage was really atrocious, which just surprised me. Drying time while working is supposed to more like oil and not quick drying like latex but seemed more like latex(finally learned to just leave it alone!). I am hoping that the cured finish will make up for everything else, ensuring my cabinets will stay looking great.

    • Natalie says:

      I’m in the same boat. Advance Satin goes on smooth, but the high gloss is covered in micro bubbles that create a haze. I’ve gone the rounds checking my spray equipment (satajet gravity feed) for oil/water, changing air pressure, etc, and they’re still there. I would love to know if this is a universal problem with gloss waterbornes.

      • Scott Burt says:

        Natalie, I doubt that it’s universal. Glosses are a pain in the neck to work with, but this sounds like a batch or formulation issue.

        • Nick says:

          I just thought I would chime in and say that I have the same issue in late 2014 as everyone is reporting with BM Advance Semi-Gloss, showing micro bubbles (or micro foaming) in the dry finish when cured.So I don’t think it’s a batch issue.

          It goes on smooth, but once it dries you can see very, very small holes everywhere. There are so tiny you have to look real close to see them. But it does cut on the shine for sure. It’s too bad because BM Advance clings very well to the surface and doesn’t run unlike Target EM6500 and Kem Aqua +.

          I use the Graco 395 Finishpro II. Tried all kinds of tips but it’s the same thing. I’ll try the Advance Satin……

          • Nick says:

            Oh and I spray on clean glass so I know it’s not the substrate.

          • Scott Burt says:

            Thanks for putting that out there, Nick. We haven’t used it much lately, so it is very helpful when our readers share their experiences.

          • Drake says:

            Just a quick alternative point of view on the Advance- I’ve sold a fair bit of it in the last 2 months (to pros and DIYers) and they’ve all been happy with the performance of the Advance.

            I don’t mean to be accusatory of your painting technique, but it’s possible it’s a problem with your application rate, applicator, or substrate. It can be hard to get glass truly clean. It’s also worth noting the Advance isn’t actually recommended for painting on glass at all. Best regards everyone.

  28. Jason says:

    Hi Scott,
    Great info here! I think you will be able to point me in the right direction with a pergola I’m building. The structure is built with Douglas fir (preferred western red cedar) due to cost constraints and I get turned left and right on what the best primer and paint to use is (will be painting it white). Currently I have my eye on the Ben Moore fresh start multi-purpose latex primer and applying 2 coats BM low lustre moorgard. I’ve been told that the alkyd primer with latex topcoat is a bit better? I prefer waterborne, but not if I’m not going to get long lasting results? Any advice/help would be greatly appreciated!

    Thx in advance


    • Scott Burt says:

      Jay, thanks for your feedback. First, its important that the fir is dry, in terms of moisture content. If you can check it on a meter, look for a reading of 10 to 12. If they are beefy pieces, they may be wet. You should scuff sand at 120 grit, and I do think oil primer would be the safest choice, although a good bonding acrylic primer would certainly be more than sufficient. Moorgard or Moorglo are both good choices.

  29. Rhonda says:

    Hi Scott,

    We have just had carpet removed from our staircase, and wooden treads installed. Now, I need to paint the risers and stringers white. I will probably also be painting the spindles. I have been thinking about using one of the waterbourne acrylic paints, but I’m a little nervous about it, because I have only painted using latex. If I use a latex, will it scuff easily? Also, will it be hard to get a smooth finish with a latex? If I use a waterbourne acrylic, what are the “secrets” to using it vs a latex? Thanks for any advice!


    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Rhonda, don’t be nervous at all. The difference is that the new wb acrylics are actually more user friendly than the previous latexes you have probably used. I would recommend a good clean and scuff of the surfaces to be painted. Use a splash of fluotrol to help the paint to flow a little better, and you should be all set. Also, I would recommend a good quality 2″ or 2 1/2″ brush. Often, that is where people miss it…they buy a cheap brush. Give it a shot and let me know what questions you have! Good luck.

  30. Angelo says:

    I currently have Duron oil paint on all trim and doors in an eggshell finish. We are in our home 20 years and want to change out color. I don’t like any of the satin finishes of the current oils on the market…too shiny. So my option is to use latex with a eggshell finish. Since my current trim in oil is practically flat, do I need to prime before applying latex over oil? I would prefer to just sand lightly and apply possibly BM Aura in a eggshell finish. Any suggestions? Or do you know of an oil product that has a eggshell finish or very low sheen?

    • Scott Burt says:

      Angelo, first, in waterborne I would go with a satin sheen instead of eggshell. Scuff the existing coating and apply an intermediate coat of latex primer to assure long term bond, then apply two coats of your new waterborne. If you go with Aura, understand you have to move quickly. Waterborne satin impervo is a more user friendly alternative with a great finish.

  31. Paul says:

    Hi Scott,

    I’m a painter in the uk and i’m trying to use more waterbased paint as the oil paint here has gone downhill since the new 2010 regs. I see above you say it’s very different than oil to work with and to get best results you need to adjust the way you go about it and was just wondering if you could give a quick outline of how best to go about it to get the best results? Any advice would be great!

    Many thanks,


    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Paul, if you look in the righthand sidebar of the homepage of this site, you will see a JLC magazine cover which contains a link to a recent article we wrote that covers exactly what you are describing. Come back with any questions!

  32. Juana de la Gaviota says:

    The job is done using SW Cashmere Medium Lustre. Both I and the painting contractor love the degree of sheen. It went on beautifully (brush, roller and spray were used), and coverage was great, too.

  33. Juana de la Gaviota says:

    I’ve not pulled the trigger yet. You’ve talked me into SW’s Cashmere Medium Lustre for both walls and wood. A semi-gloss oil is what’s on everything now, and I’m OK with its degree of sheen.

    Semi-gloss seems right with what’s going in once the new white-painted cabinets arrive: polished black granite countertops and glossy 12 x 12 black and white ceramic tiles set on the diagonal. An added boon: Semi-gloss will make the general contractor semi-happy–he favors gloss paint for kitchens.

    I’ll be back when the paint job is done.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Juana, just one more point to consider…it may be semantics, you seem to be looking for a “semi-gloss” sheen. I know you are familiar with the old oil satin impervo formulation, and seemed to favor it. The Cashmere medium lustre (and the bm waterborne satin impervo) have soft sheens in that same oil satin sheen tradition, which is not quite semi gloss, but for generally considered to be enough sheen. You should get a quart sample to make sure that you like the sheen before diving in deep. If the medium lustre/satin look is not enough, then there are other options to consider.

      • Juana de la Gaviota says:

        The SW manager told me (via phone) that Cashmere’s Medium Lustre is semi-gloss and Low Lustre is satin. From what you say, it sounds like maybe SW came up with Lustre to describe an in-between sheen.

        I am not at all fussy about sheens and am quite sure I’ll be perfectly satisfied with the soft sheen of Medium Lustre.

        I’m stopping in at SW tomorrow to choose a color in advance of the crush of customers its 40%-off sales bring and will check out the sheen samples stowed behind the counter.

  34. Juana de la Gaviota says:

    Thank you for your rapid response, Scott. You have, hands down, the best website I’ve encountered vis-a-vis the paint trade. I appreciate that you welcome input from DIYs as well as contractors.

    I had not heard of Dirtex when I started researching what to use to make sure I cleaned off any grease deposited in my 1941 kitchen, which until yesterday had never had a range hood. I won’t list all the many degreasers I experimented with and will only report that I was surprised to see that Commercial Formula 409 did the best job without leaving any residue–and was even more surprised when I read the label on the Formula 409 I buy at the supermarket for general household cleaning and noted that both products have the exact same formula. I then washed the walls and trim with TSP (which sure isn’t the product it was when it actually contained trisodium phosphate, but what are you gonna do?). Be assured I then did a clear-water rinse.

    After speaking with Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams salespeople today, I’m leaning toward BM’s pricey Waterbourne Satin Impervo for the topcoat. A SW manager tried to steer me toward Pro-Classic because, he said, he could not recommend Cashmere Medium Lustre for doors and trim, touting the hybrid instead. When I told him the latter’s learning curve was too steep for me, he said Cashmere Medium Lustre would be OK but would not hold up as long. The price difference ($62 for Waterborne Satin Impervo vs. $32 for Cashmere (at a 40%-off sale next weekend) is tempting, though–at age 76 and living alone, with no destructive rug rats around anymore, how much longer do I really have to worry about?

    I also have to paint the kitchen walls as well as those in the adjoining back entryway/high stairwell to the basement, which will likely take two gallons. I’m thinking I could save some money by using Cashmere as the topcoat for these areas but in Low Lustre rather than Medium Lustre so that the walls don’t “outsheen” the trim’s Waterborne Satin Impervo. I’m only guessing that Low Lustre is a satin finish–can you confirm that it is? (I wish American manufacturers would stick to the tried-and-true flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and gloss descriptions, don’t you? And avoid pompous British spellings.)

    Thanks for your help. It’s much appreciated. – Juana

    P.S. This is off-topic, but I notice you have nothing on your website about X-I-M’s Peel Bond, an excellent product I used last spring when I scraped and sanded the badly alligatored paint on my front porch. Some of the porch’s pillars were so close together that I could barely get my hand in between them, much less a small palm sander (I stopped keeping track of my prep hours after 30). Making the job even more miserable is that whoever repainted the porch the last time used what behaved like an early latex over oil-based lead-containing paints applied over the course of 71 years–it turned gummy when sanded.

    I never could get the surface totally smooth, of course, but Peel Bond (three thin coats) applied after priming built up the depressions significantly. I topcoated with SW’s SuperPaint. Seven months later, it’s apparent that Peel Bond was successful in bonding the previous layers to the substrate, which is even more important to me than the cosmetic improvement.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks for the update and the kind words, Juana. Very interesting to hear about your paint shopping experience today. If you have not pulled the trigger yet, I can tell you that Cashmere Medium Lustre is virtually identical in sheen, general aesthetic and performance to BM WB Impervo. I like both and use them almost interchangeably. ProClassic is also very good. I am not partial to either brand, in fact, we use both just about equally over the course of a year, with each brand having a line here or there that we prefer over the other. Not to make your decision any more complex, but you might also want to check out the “Ben” line from Benjamin Moore as well. We have used it and been very impressed with its performance vs price point.

      I happen to agree with you, you are not likely to wear out the paint you apply, and I am confident that your prep habits will lead to superior adhesion.

      And you are right, TSP isn’t what it used to be. Nothing really is. I think you would like Dirtex. Also, Simple Green and WD40 are always good to keep around for various random tasks.

      We actually have a Victorian exterior resto in progress that we are testing Peel Bond on. If it ever stops raining before winter here in Vermont, we will be sharing info on that.

      And so you know…I have met many diy homeowners who were much more thorough in their research, prep and paint habits than some ‘would be’ professionals. I am a diy-er at my own house too.

      Hope you will update on your project. Cheers!

  35. Juana de la Gaviota says:

    I’m a senior-citizen DIY in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who has painted interiors and exteriors since age 14 and understand that prep is the most important part of a paint job. In the past 20 years I’ve only painted interior walls, using water-based paints and haven’t needed to do trim. My favorite trim paint back in the day was Benjamin Moore’s Satin Impervo oil enamel, but now I have to look for a substitute. The job is a small kitchen–only two 12-light windows, two interior doors, two cabinet interiors/shelves need to be repainted white (semi-gloss over white semi-gloss).

    The finish afforded by the water-borne acrylic/alkyd hybrids, such as Benjamin Moore’s Advance and Sherwin-Williams’ Pro-Classic, is appealing, but the learning curve is more than a little daunting. I am not at all confident that I could deal with the curtaining and sagging and rapid dry time. I barely have enough surface from which to learn the technique.
    With an oil-based paint out of the question, I would very much appreciate suggestions for quality acrylic brands that don’t include Advance, Pro-Classic or similar hybrids.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hello Ms. de la Gaviota, I very much appreciate your thoughtful post. You have articulated very well the differences between the old and the new, as well as the desire for something in the middle. Like you, I grew up on oil impervo. And then everything changed. When shifting technologies, painting waterborne over oil, there are a handful of standard precautions, especially in kitchens and bathrooms.

      First, I would give the cabinets a good scrubdown with a Dirtex solution to degrease and clean. Then, scuff sand at 180 grit. If you really want to play it safe: prime. A good intermediate bond coat of primer will create the foundation for waterborne on top of oil. You could use Ben Moore 046, Sherwin Williams Wall and Wood, Kilz Max (I’ve been exploring these primers for the past year and they are covered on this site). For your topcoat, because of your oil background, you dont want a paint that is too “fast”. You want some open time. So, that rules out some of the ultra premium waterbornes, such as Duration and Aura. I would recommend that you check out Regal Select or Waterborne Satin Impervo (314) from BM, or Cashmere Medium Lustre from SW.

  36. Matthew Smith says:

    I’m a Professional finish carpenter who dabbles in finishing/painting my own work now and then.

    I have been using “Sierra Performance-Beyond” – it’s an acrylic urethane from Rustoleum’s Industrial Coatings product line. I live in So. Calif. and get it from Dunn Edwards at about $55 a gallon. I have a hard time brushing it but it loves the airless with a FF210/FF311 tip. Flows out great and dries hard quickly- typically sand and recoat in an hr. Looks like a cross between an old oil base and a lacquered finish. I showed it to a painting contractor friend (35+ yrs in the biz) and he starting using it as his primary go to finish for interior and exterior trim !!! Oh ya, it has ZERO Haps and ZERO VOC’s !!!! Doesn’t come in quarts and is only available in Satin and Gloss. Other than that it’s an awesome water borne alternative for trim work-both interior and exterior.

  37. Dry time is always an issue. But I like using The waterborne paints despite some of the draw backs.

  38. Thayne says:

    I have sprayed wb with 3 15s. I will try the smaller tip on fri. Thanks

  39. Thayne says:

    What size tips are you using for the water based primers and top coats. I heard of painters using 08 and 10 tips. How would they do this?

    • Scott Burt says:

      10 would be the smallest for all intents and purposes, and my mind uses aaa as the benchmark. For alot of what you may have seen us do lately, 312 has been a very popular size for our video shared stuff. Anyone going smaller may be thinning more or just going really slow. Pace, distance from target, product viscosity are the general principles. Have you sprayed wb yet?

  40. Thayne says:

    Hi, I’m a perfectionist and moved to Cali. I need a sandable primer for mdf and raw wood. Oils are not available. Does anybody have any suggestions? I have used kilz and cover stain. Thanks

  41. John Speridakos says:

    We just recently used a new water reducible alkyd product from California Paints called Nex-Tech. Great product with a very nice sheen and touch. Other than that, we’ve been using Aura satin for wb interior trim. With some extender, it leaves a fantastic finish. We used Advance in its first round of production and it tended to sag quite a bit. I’m going to assume that the complaints got back to the lab and they’ve now adjusted the formula to help with the problem, so we’ll probably try it again soon.
    One tip my supplier/coatings consultant has been experimenting with is mixing in about 1/4 of Vermont Natural Coatings to a gal of paint. It helps tremendously with the rheology (flow) and it leaves a great finish touch as well. I may try it with Sikkens Interior BL too. I’ve only tried the VNC mix once, but may experiment further.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks for the input, John.

    • steve says:

      Hi John: Nex-Tech is also listed as an exterior product–have you heard of anyone using it for exterior applications? Thanks so much. -Steve

      • Scott Burt says:

        Thanks for stopping by, Steve. Hopefully John will chime in. I have not seen Nex Tech myself.

        • steve says:

          Hi Scott. Last September I brushed 2 coats of Nex-Tech semi-gloss over Fine Paints of Europe waterborne alkyd primer, on some newly installed wooden storm windows here in MA. I followed all calif. instructions. However, this week I discover hairline cracks in the paint at the location of joints in the wood, and elsewhere. Wondering if anyone has any thoughts on how this could occur!!

          • Scott Burt says:

            Steve, the only thing I can think of is that maybe the waterborne alkyd isn’t flexible enough, but I haven’t used modifieds on exterior much.

  42. Tim Johnson says:

    You’re being humble. I’d say it takes at least an hour or two!

  43. Great read Scott. We are in an industry where product definitely drives process. The scene is exploding with new offerings all the time now.

    I’m glad you’re here to help navigate the new territory.

  44. Bethly says:

    I’m a customer and just had 3 rooms painted. The trim is a satin SW product of some kind. It looks chalky to me but I can see some luster if I look closer. I was a professional sign designer and painter so I understand what I have been reading on this site, however we are in different worlds. I am very familiar with the oil and latex canvas paints as well and all the new latex based oil products and brushes for the fine arts. I imagine it’s all relative. My question is, what can I use to touch up the trim and doors to give it more luster? My first thought is to thin coat with maybe “Mythic” on the flat areas staying away from the cut in work. I guess I should ad that I am recently widowed and can’t ask the (family friend) painter to redo his well intended work, not free but definitely “Bro” priced in respect to my husbands memory. I need a quick and easy way to get the chalky feeling and looking finish turned around so realtors will give a good appraisal.
    Great website by the way.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Bethly

      It sounds to me like the trim needs a second coat to achieve full satin sheen. This is called “facing off”. I would start there. Brush a second coat onto one window or door casing and see if you get the desired effect. Let me know how it works.

  45. nick dunse says:

    Just remember working with WB paints can be a PITA, last 2 days we painted 40 six panel doors and 40 LF of spindles and rails. All were previously stained and varnished. We brushed out prime coat and 2 topcoats of ADVANCE Satin it can be challenging as ADAVNCE will run, sag long after you have finishing brushing and laying off your work.

    The finish is a thing of beauty but we make sure charge accordingly. 90% of painters here do not bother with it as our paint suppliers tell us we are pretty much the only contractor who uses it on a regular basis, good for us!

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks, Nick. Advance is an oil modified waterborne, and a very different animal from the straight waterbornes. OMU’s definitely come with a learning curve, and as you noted, the finishes can be leveling marvels because they work on the slow side. We are starting to dig in on Advance more deeply.

  46. Good article and comments! I work mostly on older homes… Bungalows from the 1920’s. Most of the interior trim in these homes have several base layers of oil, but many of the homeowners want to steer away from oil base paints because of the environmental hazards associated with them. I love Benjamin Moore paints for trim, and switched to Waterborne Satin Impervo for jobs that still had older oil base on some of the woodwork. If done properly, you can have the paints adjacent to each other and not even tell the difference (like on stair cases). I’ve found it to be a great alternative to oil base paints.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks Judy. There are so many benefits for us as the contractors who work with paint everyday, and our customers who live in the homes we paint. The color retention, lack of fading, are great aesthetic benefits as well.

  47. Joel says:

    We’ve been testing WB trim products for over a year and have yet to decide on our favorite. Leaning toward the Ben Moore Advance but have also had great luck with INSLX Cabinet Coat Urethane Acrylic satin.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks for checking in Joel, it’s great to hear what people are using and how its going. We are digging into Advance these days as well. Every one of these products comes with trade offs. Sharing results is key.

  48. chris Spence says:

    Every word you uttered rings bells of freedom for change in a industry that is dominated by the old guard who are determined not to let change through the door,change in formula and change in application.Im a small business and i believe in quality and breaking the mould, if i can use a new material and application to better my out put and at the same time not leave a trail of chemicals behind me im all for it.
    I have even gone back to college,im 43 and learning old ways adapted for new technoligies, but as far as im concerned we need new ways for new technoligies,and theres more to come !!Im sick of these old guard telling me im doing this wrong or that,use oil,dont use machine blah blah.
    Thank god for people such as yourself who can see the future and understand we need to change to progress.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Well put, Chris. Thanks for commenting. There has been more change in paint formulation and tool technologies in the past 5 years than there was in the previous 50. Paint contractors, and painters, who don’t explore new process and product will go the way of the dinosaur in the next 10 years. On the other hand, paint contractors who position themselves to invest in education and equipment will soar.

  49. Tony Dehart says:

    Great Site Scott,
    I was taught Oil when first learning as a kid in Southern California, and was able to transition without much problem. I have found that regardless of who’s label of goods I’m using, the higher the Acrylc content the closer it is to ” That Oil Look”. There are still tricks that work well with waterborn products just like oil. Such as Prime, Split Coat, then Finish..Time….alot….the look…Oil.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks Tony. I am a big fan of the split coat, especially in oil. Its a great trick. We have done 4 coat systems in oil where coat two was split. Sick.

      • chris Spence says:

        Hi lads im from England and following your conversation, whats “split Coat” ?

        • Scott Burt says:

          Great, Chris. I know you folks in England are not quite as far along in the transition out of oil (and older technologies) and into the new waterborne formulations, and we are happy to help. “Split coat” might have slight variations in meaning from one contractor to another, but to me it is an intermediate coat, after your initial primer coat and before topcoats. It is 50/50 primer and finish. For your purposes, if you are painting over existing oil coats, you could do a bond coat, a split coat and a finish coat for example, assuming you had primers and paints with compatible bases. It is more of a brushing technique than a spraying one.

          • ShawnR says:

            A little late to the thread, but a lot of knowledge here. It is great to learn new things that I now what to go try out and see if my untrained eyes will see a difference.


          • Scott Burt says:

            Thats what its all about, Shawn! Wood and finish snobs sharing tips…

          • Victor says:

            Man, I know this is on old post but this whole split coat has me wondering what it’s all about.

            I think I understand the basics. Prime, split coat.. top coat.

            I imagine the 50/50 primer and paint would be both tinted the same?

            What is the difference in finished product? Is it done for walls, or just trim, doors, windows, and the like?

  50. Mythic Paint says:

    Nice website. Very cool content. Thank you!!!

  51. Nick how was the finish quality compared to other hybrids? Or as someone said on paint talk, its not a hybrid but rather oil suspended in water.

  52. Just wanted to chime in again and say I had great luck with Sherwin Williams new hybird oil/latex semi gloss finish. Color was like a slate grey we went over a tannish brown (existing
    color. Covered one coat, dries very weird but all in all another finish to consider. Brushed and flowed more like an oil then straight latex waterborne.

    Brushed cleaned up with soap water, then a quick thinner rinse.

  53. Ron Taylor says:

    I’ve been using water-based trim paint almost exclusively for around 7 years now, and once you get used to using them they are fine for pretty much every application. The only exception to that I’d make is when priming bare wood, MDF or previously varnished kitchen cabinets, when I would use Zinsser Cover Stain.
    We are a long way behind other markets here in the UK though, with oil-based products still being the prefered coating for trim. Despite manufacturers having massive problems with new formulations (yellowing, extended drying, poor application) whilst trying to conform to new European Union directives on VOC’s.
    Spray painting is also something few UK painters use on a regular basis, if ever, so the true potential of water-based trim paints is often overlooked.
    Many people will try it with the wrong brush, get poor results and dismiss it as rubbish. Never trying it again.
    We are now getting excellent US made brushes and rollers from Proform Technologies, Wooster and Purdy which are helping the products grow here because painters are realizing good results can be achieved with the right balance of tools and paint. But it’s a slow process.
    We have recently got Mythic Paint here and I find it a superb product for trim (eggshell or semi-gloss) when brushed, rolled or sprayed. Of the UK made paint here Sikkens BL Satura will give oil like application and finish in and acrylic and is starting to gain a niche in the market. Though it only being available in a satin finish does limit its use a little.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Ron, thanks for the detailed response and for sharing. It is very interesting to learn the geographic impact on what is available to painters, within the US and outside of it. It can be a whole different world in terms of what is available. Glad to hear that products and tools are becoming more available to you across the pond. I try to post up everything that is new and helpful to painters. I have heard from guys over there with sprayer availability issues as well.

  54. Nichole L says:

    Benjamin Moore’s Aura is one of my favorite’s for trim! The satin is magnificent. When working with clients that have chemical sensitivities I go with Mythic, my top choice for non-toxic paint or Yolo Colorhouse.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hey Nichole,

      Wow, you must move pretty quick with your brush to keep Aura wet, it is a challenging trim paint but the finish you can get with it is really nice. Natura is a good 0 voc option as well.

  55. We started using waterborne s from Muralo Paints years ago along with latex semi like BM aquaglow which has been on my own kitchen cabinets for last 10 yrs or so. The old old days even before Satin Impervo we liked Pratt Lambert Cell-U -Tone oil finish. Anyway our favorites in order are Muralo( now difficult to get since many stores closed) the new BM Advance is working well and we have never liked Sherwin’s Pro Classic Waterborne but the Pro Classic oil was a thing of beauty until VOC came along.

    So long as you watch your runs and dont over work it waterborne’s are very easy to work with as with any paint know the ins and outs. Just my 2cts..

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